Five-star hotels also anxious to stay alive and licking in covid times…. the Marriott leads in tempting bruncheon boxes!

By Tara Narayan

IT was one of the those Sundays when nobody wanted to eat humble home food. I was wondering what to buy home for lunch and I don’t quite know about this brunch box which the Miramar Marriott Resort & Spa in Panaji is doing, but one arrived at about lunch time. It was a huge white box with a dozen odd containers (mercifully not plastic) enshrined within. The menu was ordered by a man who loves Continental and especially veggie lasagna.
So no home-made dahi-bhat no matter how exotic, thank you, he said. He can chew only soft things with his dentures and not difficult fancy veggies and he recognized the Italian lasagna as a soft, savoury affair which would offer him no obstacles in the chewing part of it (that is if he has the patience to chew!)…. who had ordered the Marriot Sunday Brunch Box? He had ordered it secretly without my awareness and of course these days few men consult their wives.
A sweetie boy Anthony brought the box and put it on the dining table. What is it? I asked. Brunch box from Marriott. It’s home delivered. Since folk are shy about venturing out of their homes these days even the Marriott kitchen chefs decided to bring their buffet menu home to those who ordered. Menus of course can be mouthwatering in the reading – there was a choice of soup (choose any one): Sweet corn vegetable, tomato dhania shorba, tom yum chicken soup, mixed seafood broth-basil pesto. Then came salad (choose any two): Tandoori paneer tikka with coriander; curried pumpkin and nuts; paprika, crispy greens; chilled watermelon with green lime dressing and shaved parmesan; sesame tossed Asian chicken salad; marinated lamb and mint slaw; nicoise salad. Appetizers (choose any two): Beetroot feta cheese tikki; tawa paneer; sundried tomato and olive cigar; four cheese baked rosti; Goan chili chicken; murgh malai tikka, panko fried fish fingers; ginger soya pork.
Main course (choose any four): Malai kofta, dal bukhara, paneer butter masala, ricotta and spinach crepes with cream pesto sauce, vegetable lasagna, meen moilee, chicken tawa biryani, lamb tagine, fish in hot garlic sauce, chili basil chicken. Accompaniments (choose any two): Butter garlic methi naan, chili naan, herb rice, curried noodles, subz tawa pulao. Finally, desserts (choose any two): Moti choor laddoo, rasmalai, cherry burfi, black currant cake, mixed berry entremets, pineapple upside down cake, white chocolate blondie, buckeye brownie, exotic fruit custard. There was enough on the menu to confuse royally and whoever ordered pretended he didn’t know what he had really ordered! Except the veggie lasagna of course, two of them were there in the big white box.
Other containers had portion of rich dark red tomato dhania shorba, was that chilled watermelon with green lime dressing? The beetroot feta cheese tikki looked appealed but not the fried sundried tomato and olive cigar and there was too little fish in hot garlic sauce! Butter garlic methi naan was comsi comsa, subz tawa pulao okay…rasmalai. A few other non-descript things, forgettable. But I thought two could share, three could also if they eat frugally. In the end I thought it was too much, called up a friend to come and help out in the eating in!
Damages for the Marriott Brunch Box: About Rs1,500 or so. We got a Marriott card discount. It took a while to come and the food was a little on the warm and cold side, can’t be helped I suppose in home deliveries. Fine for a lark and the boy Anthony was very polite…I asked and he said yes, m’aam, they’re doing a dozen or so orders on this home delivery brunch box! Enjoy, and he departed.
My dahi-bhat languished in the fridge and we ate the Marriott Brunch White Box. Take a look at the menu for two and family portions. One may speak with the F & B manager for changes here and there to suit an individual palate. End of story.
ACTUALLY, I’m increasingly suffering from shock by the number of live kitchens in action around town Panaji, my WhatsApp foodie site gets crowded with daily insight into how much there is to eat, eat and eat to forget these crazy sit-at-home monster coronavirus times…there’re so many folk out there offering to bring all kinds of royal feasts home to me, if I would just lift the smart phone and order. Food just a call away! Menu, pictures, prices – all listed. All kinds of foods, snacks, and lately I’ve been studying these Biryani by Kilo people offering a range of biryani non-veg and even veg…ranging from the Hyderabadi style to Lazawab Lucknowi to Kolkato…and kebabs, korma and curries, breads, beverages (e.g. imli adraki lemonade), extras, something meetha like gulab jamun with rabri and matka phirni. I think I’ll check out the vegetable galouti kebab and veg Hyderabadi biryani one of this days, and what’s a kathal biryani, Peshwari chole biryani…I always love the burani raita which comes along with biryani.
No, we don’t order too much food from outside. I cook more or less because I’m addicted to my early morning sortie to check out what’s there at the Panaji pavement gavti morning from 6am to 9am. I bought my first gota mangoes (small flavorful mangoes) for Rs50 per six to make gotachem sasav! Mankurad is still selling at Rs600 to Rs1,000 so I’m not buying, may be next month by mid-May. I prefer alphonso of Devnagari which is also selling at Rs600 dozen, pairi is down to Rs300 per dozen…a friend sent over a khatta meetha theeka Gujarati green mango curry and after storing it in the fridge for three days I ate it on the fourth day with some rice. I’ve more or less stopped cooking rice in favor of dosa – plain dosa with alu-pyaz-tomato sabzi. If there’s any batter left over, I add some Bihari sattu in it, turmeric, grated ginger-garlic, a generous spoonful of crushed ajwain, chopped green coriander, chaat masala…. some tomato pulp, stir, stir, and you’ll be surprised how nice the tomato dosa turn out and taste yummy with deadly dollops of shrikhand.
Remind me not to take the easy way out and buy too much kesar or elaichi shrikhand! Shrikhand and mooli bhaji (or any greens stuffed) paratha are nice but can switch the shrikhand for a raita and don’t be afraid to add fine onion to your raita.
COVID times I’m urging you to eat more onion, garlic, cinnamon, tamarind and the other day at the OMO outlet at Fontainhas where I sometimes drop in looking for fresh mint, I found these little absolutely delicious fresh fruit apricots. Add them to dal or gravy sabzi if you like for a sour tang or savor them as they ripen more and more on the dining table. Actually I’m sick of eating these days, can’t stand the thought of food or cooking. Maybe I’ve got a little bit of the covid menace lingering in me…
When we moved into this new rental digs at Caranzalem the real estate broker had covid-19 and I’d shaken hands with him and chatted some, those early days nobody was really taking covid seriously. Week later feeling under the weather and cleaning the bathroom I thought I couldn’t smell things…while flushing, toothpaste while brushing teeth, soap when bathing, ginger masala in my morning tea. I took paracatemol, gargled with warm mild salt water, did jalneti with warm mild salt water (this is very good therapy to keep sinuses cleansed). I was fine. Late last year who took covid so seriously as today!

LAST week I learned through these amazing Facebook consultancy sessions with Dr K K Aggarwal about serious coronavirus infection and the non-serious coronavirus infection…the latter is merely to do with loss of taste and smell, dry cough, no fever. This good doctor was fielding various patients’ queries most genially…have you done rtpcr, if no rtpcr what about his six minute walking test: if you’re not panting after this walk, you’re fine!
Sometimes even after the two vaccines you may contact serious corona virus strain. The pulmonary covid is difficult, don’t keep self-treating yourself if fever is recurrent and go post haste to doctor who will check CRP, prescribe Prednisole steroids and blood thinners…you may need hospitalization. He kept telling various patients to do his six minute walk test! Some he said go straight to hospital now. A most remarkable online session and Dr Aggarwal confessed that day he thought he was running corona too, so he may be out of commission for the next session, “don’t worry, somebody will take over!” Hey, Dr K K Aggarwal, hope you’re fine.
Funny, how much I learned about patients’ anxieties and doctor’s concerns and covid 19 and its mutant variants through this one exchange between a doctor and patients online! Brief and to the point and absolutely straight forward. Also I never till now realized the importance of the CRP or C-reactive protein factor. This is the blood marker for inflammation in the body. Did you know that CRP is a protein made by the liver and its level increases with inflammation somewhere in the body in the body? When measured by a blood test: CRP is acute when levels rise. Normal is less than 10 milligram per liter (mg/L). A test result showing a CRP level greater than 10mg/L is a sign of serious infection, trauma or chronic disease which needs further investigation. The lowest detection limit is 0.5 mg/dL and values of 0.8 mg/dL or higher are considered elevated.
Hey, all our diseases and aging factors are linked to how much continuing inflammation there is in our body beautiful courtesy what we put in our mouth! Food is medicine as I constantly repeat in this column of maybe now over 30 years and much water under the bridge of life! And then there is stress: Scientific evidence suggests the more the stress the more the increase in this stress hormone which activates the inflammatory arm of the immune system and triggers expression of genes that cause chronic, low-grade inflammation. This inflammation is characterized by high levels of CRP.
This is to say don’t worry, all things shall pass. But in the meantime eat more fatty fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and other types of fish which contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids called EPA and DHA that are good at fighting inflammation, also nuts (walnuts, caju nuts), extra virgin olive oil, leafy greens, cherries, dark chocolate and cocoa. Some alternative practitioners in the countries of the west now say greens must come on top of the list of food we eat! Greens, greens, greens. No greens: More inflammation! We are like gorillas not lions vis-à-vis our evolution.

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